BY KUNLE SOLAJA
Premier sports betting mogul, Chief Kesington Adebukunola Adebutu, CON better known as ‘Baba Ijebu’, made his first public outing on Monday at the Eko Hotel when he attended the modest but colourful ceremony where his gaming outfit, Premier Lotto signed a partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation.
Most likely, he was not expected to attend the event, but he made an appearance which prompted the NFF Chieftain, Amaju Pinnick to bend on his knees to receive him.
Baba Ijebu later announced that his attendance was his first outing in 18 months. He remarked that he opted to personally attend as a way of giving back to the sport – football – which launched him into financial prominence.
“Am personally here because of the importance I attach to this ceremony…I made my money from football”, he said pointing out the breakthrough he had in the 1970s when he set up the ‘Face to Face Million Dollars Pools.
According to him, before he ventured into the business, pool betting in Nigeria was dominated by the Lebanese.
“Because we are Nigerians, the citizens supported us and we were able to diversify”, remarked Baba Ijebu who termed his gesture as a way of giving back to the nation’s lead sport that launched him into financial prominence.
Before Baba Ijebu’s remarks, NFF president reeled out the hitherto unannounced gestures that the kind hearted man had done to the Super Eagles.
Pinnick recalled the night of the 17 November 2016 World Cup qualifying tie with Algeria when he got a call from broadcast legend, Bisi Olatilo who told him that Baba Ijebu wanted to speak with him.
The NFF president said that he was shocked by the brief and effective remarks by Baba Ijebu who told him of his excitement of watching the Super Eagles as they beat Algeria. “He announced a donation of N50 million to the team which was promptly paid.”
A much delighted Pinnick heaped plaudits on Baba Ijebu, saying the generosity and philanthropy of the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Premier Lotto Limited is renown globally.
“The NFF and the entire Nigeria Football family is grateful to you for the work you are doing to remodel and upgrade our beloved National Stadium, Lagos. I also remember acts of generosity from you to the various National Teams particularly the Super Eagles. You are a great and wonderful man and we pray that you spend many, many more years in good health and in joy.
“Today’s event makes me very happy because it takes us even closer to the financial autonomy that we so much desire, so that we can remove entirely the burden the of funding the national teams from the government. Premier Lotto is a company with high integrity and we are happy to have this relationship with Chief Adebutu and the company.”
An overjoyed Chief Adebutu, who donned a black track suit, said Premier Lotto felt a sense of fulfillment to finally have a relationship with the NFF and the national teams, and praised the work that Pinnick and his board has been doing to grow Nigeria Football even in these challenging times.
The partnership agreement, which confers on Premier Lotto Limited (fondly referred to as Baba Ijebu)
the status of the Official Gaming Partner of the National Teams, is for four years in the initial.